Friday, December 31, 2010

cultivate your spirituality. cultivate hope.

(this is part 7 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1, part 4.2part 5  and part 6 here.)

gail's seventh step in her ten-fold path is to cultivate your spirituality. she says:

"Cultivate your spirituality. Learn to pray. Pray often. Smudge by burning herbs. Give thanks often, many times a day. Fall in love not only with plants, but with all of life. Fall in love with your clients. Commit to them. Pray for them. It is on this level of prayer, the spiritual level that you will connect most deeply with both plants and your clients.

Develop a spiritual discipline if you do not already have one. Cultivate your innate spirituality. Whatever that means to you. Be upright, honest, fair, clear and impeccable in all your dealings. People and plants have to trust you. You must be worthy of that trust. You have to keep your word. You have to be true. Be ethical in the way you interface with life and especially with the earth, with plants, people and all living things. Your way of life, attitudes and sense of ethics, as well as your approach to herbs and herbal medicine, is in large part what will attract others to you.

Cultivate hope. Hope is a critically important part of the healing equation. Your positive attitude is critical to your clients ongoing healing. I tell my community herbalist students that if your client does not turn around to you at the end of a consultation session and say words to the effect of “Thanks, I feel so much better already.” Then you have not done your job.

this is something i need a lot of work on. there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and so spirituality has taken a back burner. i do want to change this though. i have a book on simplicity and quakerism that i keep tucked into my ballet bag for reading before and after class. that's just once a week but it's a few moments i can steal towards more moments...

gail's words are right on with quaker teachings..."be upright, honest, fair, clear and impeccable in all your dealings. People and plants have to trust you. You must be worthy of that trust. You have to keep your word. You have to be true. Be ethical in the way you interface with life and especially with the earth, with plants, people and all living things." this is one of the quaker testimonies, to be honest and fair in all of one's dealings. i do hope people see in  this manner as i do try to be honest and fair at all times. i find myself being dishonest when i don't want to hurt someone's feelings and i realize this is a major weakness of mine that i need to work on. more so, i need to learn tact so i can be honest tactfully. i tend to be blunt and not always sensitive. not on purpose though. 

i'll be thinking about this step a lot over the next few weeks while i try to find the time to focus more on my spirituality and with living the quaker beliefs i'd like to be living...

how do you cultivate hope? how are you spiritual? how do you cultivate your innate spirituality? 

dreadlocks - 10 weeks

they are all knotty and crazy right now. i have a few convo's going on (2 that are joining). love not having to mess with them at all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

phase 3 - the skirt

i was intimidated to do the skirt and put it off for weeks. the hood i completed over a month ago and it just sat around.

yesterday, i was determined to start it. not only did i start it, but i completed it! i sewed the pockets on today and now it's ready for embellishing with embroidery and such.

i started by cutting out strips from the sweater bodies that were left over. since the hood and sleeves were mostly made from sweater sleeves, i had a lot of bodies to work with.

after i cut the strips out, i arranged them on the floor around the sweater. i rearranged until i liked the color arrangement then cut scraps to fill in the gaps of the shorter sweater pieces.

i sewed the strips that had 2 pieces together first then sewed sections together: 5 strips on each side and then the center panel. then i sewed the 3 separate panels together.

i then measured the body with the skirt size and realized the waist of the skirt would be too wide so i adjusted by sewing a few of the top panels into triangles by pinching and serging down the center.

i then trimmed off the body of the sweater as it was too long, intentionally cutting it shorter than desired so i could sew a contrasting panel for the waist. once the constrasting panel was serged on, i centered the skirt and started at the center and sewed out to the end and repeated with the other side.

once the skirt was sewn on, i carefully removed the pockets from the part of the sweater body i had cut off so i could reuse them on the coat. then i cut that panel into 3 strips and serged the strips together. i had to serge about 3" inched into the panel so it would fit so i cut the panel in half and serged the 3" piece into the center cuz i'm all about

then i simply serged the trim panel to the edge of the skirt and serged the edges all the way around the skirt.

the final step was to sew on the pockets and viola! my gypsy boho sweater coat. i LOVE it!!!
you can see phase 1 here and phase 2 here.

gypsy coat phase 2 - the hood

the hood was a bit tricky and the hardest part for me. once i got it connected though, the long part was easy.

i cut out a bunch of strips, using a combination of body part of sweater and dwindling down to various sleeve pieces until i got to the end. the final piece was a leftover strip that naturally curled so i sewed it to the point. i may put a tassle on the point but i'm not sure as i'm afraid it will drag the ground.
for the piece that framed my face, i folded over the strip and sewed it together. i left the ends hanging lose for quite awhile trying to decide how to finish the ends. i eventually cut them off and sewed them to the sweater body.
phase 1 - the sleeves can be found here. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

happy solstice

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!”
-   Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day

Saturday, December 18, 2010

simplify your life

(this is part 6 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1part 4.2 and part 5 here.)

gail's sixth step in her ten-fold path is to simplify your life. she says:

"Simplify your life. Live as simply and as naturally as you can. Try to drink wild water, eat wild plants. Swim in natural lakes and ponds or the ocean. Get yourself back to nature, first in little steps, then run, as fast as you can. Look up at the sky at night, notice the phases of the moon, the situation of the stars. Welcome the sun rise in the morning, go to bed when it gets dark. Light candles instead of turning on electric lights. Sleep outside on the ground as much as possible. Walk barefoot on the earth. Do these things day after day, month after month, year after year."

there is nothing i like better than to walk outside at night and stare up at the moon and stars. i love finding constellations and learning the story of each one. i tell these stories over and over to my kids and partner. when i had more energy, i used to bake full moon cookies and sometimes i'd make crescent cookies for the waxing and waning moon cycles to honor the moon's cycles and make my kids aware of her monthly changes. 
i go barefoot probably 9 months out of the year until the ground becomes too cold and frozen for me to tolerate. i have poor circulation so my feet and hands are usually cold. exposing them to the cold ground makes them cramp so i have to don wool socks and lined earth boots otherwise, i'd be barefoot year round. 
i love the feel of the ground on my feet, the softness of the grass, the harshness of the gravel drive, the squishiness of mud between my toes, the warmth of the path stones that lead to the gardens. i feel so grounded when i can make that connection. 
we have an aladdin lamp and candles that i like to burn in the winter time when it is dark so early. candles adorn our dining table and the aladdin lamp sits by my side when i am reading or writing at the kitchen table. this year, i invested in the full spectrum bulbs to put in the lights as well for when we need brighter light. so far, i've had no serious sadness as i've experienced in the past. even though the lights aren't natural, they are closer to natural light than the cfl that we've used in the past. 

i miss camping. we used to travel to colorado once a year to camp out in the mountains. waking up a dawn with the crispness of the morning air was wonderful. the smell of pine needles, the rushing of the river, the calls of the birds was a refreshing change. since our situation won't allow us to do that right now, i need to make a plan to get out more locally for camping, even if it means staying in my own back yard! we will work on this next spring and summer. i'd love to create an outdoor bedroom for summertime sleeping. that would be magical! 

wild foods is something i've always had a love affair with. i have fond memories as a child of going down to the woods behind our house, harvesting wild onions and other edibles and cooking meals on a small fire that i ate, all in secret as i knew my parents would have forbid me to do it on the grounds that 1. i would burn down the woods and 2. i would poison myself. smile. on the flip side, i encourage my children to do this...last summer all 6 got into a 'survival day' of sorts and went out to do just that. one of my kids even fried up worms and ate them...not something i would have done, but hey, that was his choice. their meals included nettles, mulberries, wild onions and cattails. 
last year, our dog brought home a rabbit and i jumped on the chance to have it for dinner! poor dog, she had no idea what happened to her meal. i did give her part of it for her trouble. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

study, study, study.

(this is part 5 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2, part 3, part 4.1 and part 4.2 here.)
gail's fifth step in her ten-fold path is to study, study, study. she says:

"When my children where young I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning, light some candles quietly in the kitchen so as not to wake anyone, and read and study for a few hours until the kids woke up. Then I would spend all day during the growing season working in the garden or wildgathering. At the end of the day, after the kids fell asleep, I again lit some candles and read by firelight before going to sleep myself. I was completely consumed by my studies. I was obsessed. You will need to be serious about attending to your studies. You will have to make time for them. This requires commitment. You may have to make some sacrifices.

Read, read, read. Read plant books and herbals from all traditions,study botany, read medical journals and herbal monographs, books about all kinds of healing, delve into psychology, sexuality, addiction, depression, skin diseases, nervous afflictions...cover it all, leave no stone unturned. But do take your time. Absorb, don't just skim. Be diligent in your reading, your studying, your research. Read everything you can get your hands on, and keep reading and studying your subject and related subjects for the rest of your life. It helps to keep notes on personal reading as well as observation…keep copious notes. Collect whole volumes. Underline your own notes…

If you want a teacher, go out and find one you are attracted to. Find one whose approach to working with plants and people lines up with your own. Someone who shares your values. A teacher can be someone just passing through your life, or someone you will consider to be your teacher and mentor for many years. Choose carefully. Then apply yourself to learning all you can from your teacher. Soak it all up from A to Z. Offer thanks. And be sure to include a grain of salt."

this really hits home for me. one of my biggest complaints is the kids take all my time and give me none in return to study or focus. i end up staying up very late at night to work after everyone is asleep but the downside is my time with my partner is taken from too. finding balance between kids, home, partner, writing and study is hard.

i do tend to read everything i can though. my collection of books grows continuously and i have lots of herbal magazines sitting about too. videos such as numen and julie of the herbs adorn my dvd shelves and i glean the blog of kiva, writings and herb walks of jim, and everything i can from i'm currently signed up with kiva for a mentorship that will probably be ongoing for the next 2 years and i am halfway through as well. i live in the midwest and herbal schools are lacking in this area. as a way of giving back, i offer a herbal study group once a month and teach others about herbs. doing this not only helps others learn but it also helps to refresh my memory and keep the herbs alive in my mind. 

i have toyed with the idea of going back to school and getting a nursing degree for the medical side of things. i'm just not sure i could stomach the strong conventional medical 'wisdom', especially when it comes to routine c-sections and medicating of patients for things such as high blood pressure, diabetes and the like without first trying to change the situation through diet. 
i have found going to herbal conferences such as the traditions in western herbalism and the southeast women's herbal conference to be a great way to getting in some great herbal knowledge, connect with likeminded folks and deepen my understanding of herbs and herbal traditions. i plan to bring a tape recorder next year so i can record my classes as my notes just aren't thorough enough. 
part of my downside to not being able to study enough are the distractions of the internet. i tend to hover near my computer all day because of my business and wanting to respond to people as soon as possible when they sign up for a subscription or have a problem or question. one of my goals for the next year is to be less tethered to the computer by allotting myself a time frame to get my work done on a scheduled basis and also creating time for daily study as well.

being patient! with my kids, my ability to only do and retain so much at a time and everything else that i must attend to in my life are big factors in this. 
another part of not studying enough is discipline. when gail says "You will need to be serious about attending to your studies. You will have to make time for them. This requires commitment. You may have to make some sacrifices." she is right on the money. if i want to further my knowledge, i must make time. i must commit and be serious about studying on a daily basis. since i do not have a formal school i can attend, my willpower to focus on my self guided study, even through my coursework with kiva, must be self willed and committed. i am committing to 10 hours of study a week towards my herbal studies. ideally, i'd love to do 20 but i know with all my other commitments, 10 is all i can offer myself. however, this does not include all the study and research i do for writing herbal roots so i'm betting at a minimum i do 20 a week. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

upcycling sweaters

reusing sweaters is such a fun thing to do! i've yet to finish my coat but when i do, i'll get a tutorial up about making it. in the mean time, here are some more ideas to get you started:

upcycled sweater house slippers:

crocheted edges
boot style
simple sewn
martha stewart style

they're back in style and even though i never wore them the first time round, i'm liking them now for use in ballet...upcycled sweater leg warmers:

button detail

and just not on legs...i love them on my arms because my sleeves always seem to be too short:

nice little fashion update and 'how to'

skirts from sweaters:

kids skirt from adult sweater

and a ton more links

fun sweater crafts

i highly recommend the sweater chop shop as well. it's got a lot of really neat ideas. check out that dress on the cover...the skirt part is made from 3 sweater looks warm and cozy, would be nice paired with some leggings and coordinating leg warmers!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

finding a herbal ally

in an article* i recently read written by lady barbara, she spoke about finding her plant ally through illness. her ally was teasel and before she knew she needed it, she ran into the herb everywhere she looked. she gives this advice for finding a plant ally:

"Ask yourself, what plant has whispered to you all your life? Seemed to be standing there shining every time you looked down? What plant, when you first met it, just took your breath away even though you had no name for it and not a clue as to what to “use” it for?"

this is the plant you should be looking for! look around your landscape, not just the landscape at your house but the landscape you see regularly, perhaps on the route to work or school or shopping. is there a particular plant that you seem to notice over and over again? or is there a plant that has evaded you for years, no matter how hard you've tried to cultivate it that suddenly sprouts up where you least expect it? in droves?

in thinking which plant to select for my plant ally in the coming year, i thought about what barbara said and what susun has said about finding a plant ally and everything else i've read about plants coming to you when you need them.

7 or 8 years ago, i started a patch of nettles in my backyard in a small yard in town. when we moved here, i dug up some of them to transplant. the following spring, they came up but they weren't themselves anymore...they had no sting. i was unsure they were even nettles because of this and the plant just sort of went away.

every year i tried to grow nettles from seed again through broadcasting and starts in the greenhouse with no luck. i thought i saw him growing wild all around but when i'd try to sting myself, nothing. no nettles anywhere in sight on our property.

this spring, those seedling nettles started to take hold and grow finally.

then, one day i was tethering out the goats and stumbled upon a stand of nettles. a LARGE stand of him! i was so excited i just kept stinging myself over and over again. i harvested it and cooked up nettles for many meals until my partner complained about it. i walked our property and found several more areas where he was happily growing, as if he'd always been there and i'd just been too blind to see the edge of the fence row, in the pasture, at the edge of the tree line and right up through the center of the old barn that had burned down years ago.

when i went to a local conservation area to do some volunteer work, again, i ran into huge stands of nettles. it was everywhere, even in the parking lot! with permission and lots of quizzical looks, i harvested much to give to a friend and myself and even did a cooking demonstration for a local school's class field trip at the conservation's request.

so, i'm thinking nettles would be a good choice for me to latch on to for the next year. i have about a half gallon of it left that i've dried and that will help get me started.

and don't forget too, what susun weed says about finding an herbal ally:

"Choose a plant that grows very near to you ... no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place ... in a pot on your balcony is just fine ... in a park is great ... so is an alley ... or a backyard. "

for anyone else wanting to join in on an herbal ally but still can't decide which herb, try thinking back to the past year and see if there's an herb that has suddenly popped up on your radar. or perhaps a plant you have been flirting with for years, always drawn to it but never knowing why. this is the time to discover just what that plant is trying to tell you. look around and see what you can find. even in the stark landscape of winter, i'm sure there is a plant out there just waiting for you to notice him.

and if he's not growing within walking distance, don't worry about it. order some seeds or a plant start through horizon herbs or thyme garden to plant over the winter for growing on your windowsill. then, once spring arrives, you can transplant him outside close by for more observation.

if you are pregnant or hope to be while you are on your herbal ally journey, susun weed wrote a great article about pregnancy herbal allies and those you might wish to avoid.

next time, i'll write about some tools that can be useful for studying your plant ally. in the meantime, listen to the plants and discover which one wants to talk to you.

want to see others who are joining in on this journey? here's a list of those that are participating:

sarah chose voilet
karisma chose tansy
christine chose nettles
stephany chose burdock
joyceann chose dandelion
piper chose rosemary

*"teasel - my plant ally" by barbara hall, volume 1 issue 1 of plant healer magazine. you can see a sample of the full issue here and read her monograph (as well as many other great herbalists' articles as well). 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

herbal ally

(this is part 4.2 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3 and part 4.1 here.)

gail's second part of her fourth step in her ten-fold path is to find a herbal ally. she says:

"Pick a new plant each year to focus on. Be sure to grow the plant, or meet it in the wild, observe it, make different medicines and foods with it, use it in many ways, consume it regularly, or use as applicable as often as possible, and constantly observe. Noting all you observe. Keeping your own notes is critically important. Learn to meditate with plants. Learn to take care of them, learn to process and use them, one by one. Fall in love with each and every plant you work with, one by one. Recognize the living being there, the spirit of the plant. Respect its power. Open your wild heart to it."

i have toyed with having herbal allies in the past but have never made it a year with one plant. at most, i've studied on intensively for 2-3 months. 

even though i haven't had a year long dance with an herb, each month i have a month long dance with learning/relearning and immersing myself in one herb through my writings for herbal roots zine. i have learned that no matter how much i think i know about a plant before i start writing about it, as i refresh my memory with my favorite herbals and new herbals that cross my path, i discover something new that makes me run and grab a tincture or infusion or even a fresh cutting of the herb to study it some more. 

i hope to start a journey with a plant ally in january and go through the year with the selected herb. how does one select a plant as an ally? susun weed says this in her article you can have a green ally

"Choose a plant that grows very near to you ... no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place ... in a pot on your balcony is just fine ... in a park is great ... so is an alley ... or a backyard. "

over the next few weeks, i plan to make a list of all the herbs i have growing around me, both cultivated in my herb gardens and growing wild in the wooded and open areas behind the pastures. from this list i'll narrow it down to one herb even if i have to draw the name from a hat! the challenge for this is going to be that most everything around me is in the dormant stage due to winter so i'll have to figure out alternatives to learning about it until it re-emerges in the spring. after reading an article by barbara hall, i discovered which herbal ally i should be studying this upcoming year. you can read all about my choice and get more ideas on how to choose your own herbal ally in my next article, finding a herbal ally

susun offers 6 different green ally exercises to get to know the ally more intimately so i will try to do as many of them as possible. here is a short summary of those exercises:

1. meditate/sit and breathe with my green ally for 3-10 minutes a day
2. make a detailed drawing of the ally as accurate as possible. next make a soft, impressionistic drawing
3. find out what parts of the ally are typically used. find out if other parts are useful. make oils, tinctures and vinegars of all the useful plant parts (separately)
4. observe the conditions the plant chooses to grow in. 
5. write a story from the point of view of my green ally. if i'm having trouble getting started, i'll write a warm up page praising my green ally and telling him how much i like him and why
6. introduce a friend to my green ally. tell them all about my ally.

other exercises i plan to add to this list are:
*write a song about my green ally
*write poems about my green ally
*if edible, eat my green ally as often as possible
*try my ally in tea form
*start some seeds of my green ally so i can watch him grow from a seedling into full life
*fharvest my ally at all stages of growth
*sketch, draw, paint my ally at all stages of growth

all of this information will be kept in a blank journal that is dedicated to my green ally of the year. i'll paste all my sketches, drawings, paintings in there along with my poems, stories, songs and discoveries of this plant. at the end of the year, i'll have a complete book just about the one plant. 

once a month, i'll post a update here to tell of my journey with the herb i've chosen.

i'm thinking this is a great exercise for anyone who wants to know herbs more intimately. my monthly zine is a great starter for getting kids thinking this way about an herb (and adults too). for those of us wanting to delve more deeply, a year's journey is a great way to do it. if anyone is interested in joining in with me, let me know in the comments. if there's enough interest, i'll do another post about preparing for this journey, what you'll need to get started and some guidelines to follow. then we can report back say once a month to update each other on how this journey is going. 

anyone want to come along for the journey?

refashion update

still working on my own gypsy coat and have the hood done. i don't have pictures yet, i'll get some soon and post them. in the meantime, i played with the serger and created this cute little coat for jaden:

this was made out of 2 sweaters...the tan one i showed a fews weeks ago and a stripy one i found last week at a thrift shop (i forgot to photograph the before of it but it was just a simple zip up sweater. the tans in both sweaters matches perfectly and jaden loves red so the red accent was a huge hit with her. i made leg warmers from the excess (you can sort of see them in the pictures...they are a bit big for her so i may sew them down a bit...)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learn to open your wild heart, connect with your inner wild nature

(this is part 4.1 of a 10-part series, a life's journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward's article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2 and part 3 here.)

gail's first part of the fourth step in her ten-fold path is to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature. she says:

"It is this open, wild and compassionate heart that resonates with the wild heart of the earth, the wild heart of the plants. In order to work with plants, and people, intuitively you must be able to connect with them. Opening one's wild heart clears communication pathways…words are unnecessary, communication is instantaneous. There becomes a knowing. This is different from what you read in books. This is the true body of knowledge, this is wisdom. It is accrued over many years of observation, study, practice and commitment. This knowing comes in moments of intuition, when many diverse facts converge into one coherent understanding. You enter this path to the degree that you are able to open your wild heart. Practice doing so every day."

part of connecting with my inner wild nature has been to let it become part of my outer nature. with so many feelings of depression, frustration and being deeply overwhelmed with everything in my life (there is such a thing as TOO much of a good thing...), i have lost part of who i am. the past 6 years have been an intense mix of emotions through becoming a mother again twice, leaving an outside job to pursue my dreams of being an herbalist and homesteader, homeschooling and starting a new business that i stumbled into by accident (but am oh so grateful of).  through all of it, i lost all sense of self. i was so busy doing all these things that i forgot about myself, my true self, my powerful self. the past few months i have allowed myself to be me and rediscover who this person is. i feel like i've been in a chrysalis and now i'm slowly emerging, keeping the best parts of my old self while adding on with new parts. 

for me, connecting to my inner wild nature has led me to become more primal. in my diet, i'm eating more primally: adding wild foods to my meals such as nettles, chickweed, dandelions and whatever else i can find in addition to eating more meat, especially wild meat when i can get it. i eat more meat at breakfast and as i've known this about myself for years, eating more meat protein makes me feel better physically. i've not made or eaten bread on a daily basis and the lack of bread in my diet has helped with how i feel as well. i've also taken a break from drinking alcohol and am grateful for doing so. it's been over 10 weeks now and not feeling crappy when i wake in the morning or cloudy all evening long is wonderful. 

i've been drinking more infusions too. comfrey and nettles are my two favorites. i'm wishing i'd harvested more as i don't think i have enough to see me through winter. these mineral rich infusions have nourished my wild heart and strengthened it over the past few months. 

in my physical appearance, i've become more wild too. my decision to dread my hair has been liberating. i love decorating my dreads with bling i've made from natural objects...bone, copper wire, shells and wood. i feel more like ayla with bits here and there. an occasional leaf, twig or blade of grass from outside adds to the wild nature.

i'm attracted to earrings made from natural elements...bone, stone and wood are my current favorites and i'm collecting animals bones to make more jewelry from (living on a farmette has definite advantages to being able to accumulate animal bones...). mice, voles, fox, raccoon, skunk and possum bones are all commonly found around here. chicken feathers are beautiful and vibrant and abundant as well. adding these elements to adorne me makes me feel more wild and alive.

i love tattered looking clothing and scour etsy for ideas to make clothing, using pieces i have that i'm tired of combined with a few new finds at thrift shops. 

but learning to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature is more than just this. kiva rose's herb energetics course is a great way for me to connect with the plants on this deeper level. i'm only about halfway through the course but everything i've learned so far has been a blessing in this aspect. 

being able to communicate with the plants, being able to understand them on a higher level is paramount to being an herbalist. plants speak to us but as jim mcdonald said at the traditions in western herbalism conference, for them to speak to us on a level we can understand, in a personified manner, while being highly spiritual for us, is a step down for them. we need to learn to speak with them on their level and understand their messages as they can best communicate with us, through our senses of taste, touch and smell. if we can learn to do that by opening our wild hearts, we have the key to understanding what any plant has to say to us, for better or worse. 

this step is something i have toyed with over the years but i am now only beginning to fully understand the necessity of it and learning to apply it to my daily life as an herbalist. connecting to the herbs through daily use, observation and intuition is the only way to fully connect with them. trusting my instincts, listening for them, paying attention to them is vital to a full understanding of the herbs and the medicine they have to offer. doing something i have been told to shut off for all these years is hard to do and probably one of the hardest steps in this journey. by starting with my physical self, i am slowly bringing my wild inner nature back alive and learning to open my wild heart and connect with the herbs on that higher level. 

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